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NRA's Numbers for Gun Self-Defense Don't Add Up

The NRA has been pushing the claim that guns in America are more likely to be used for self-defense than to commit a crime.

This message is repeated on the NRA-produced "The Armed Citizen File" segment on The Sportsman Channel and on the NRA's "Hero of the Day" on SiriusXM. Both broadcasts are hosted by NRA News host Cam Edwards who often tells stories of gun owners stopping criminals.

According to, the NRA likely uses discredited research to advance their claim that "firearms are used more than two million times a year for personal protection."

The NRA claim may come from criminalogist Gary Kleck, whose claim that guns were used defensively between 830,000 and 2.45 million times each year has been used on NRA News, reports

David Hemenway, of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, says there is "an enormous overestimate" are "serious methodological deficiencies" in Kleck's studies.

Additionally, says there were 31,347 deaths from gunshots, plus an additional 73,505 non-fatal firearm injuries in 2010. That comes to about 100,000 instances of people being shot.

This poses the question: How could 2.5 million self-defense incidents happen each year, which would be more than 20 times the number of people being shot?

Even if there are only 830,000 uses of self-defense, that is still about eight times the total number of people being shot and killed. If true, the news reports for self-defense stories would be off the charts.

The health journal Injury Prevention adds, "Even after excluding many reported firearm victimizations, far more survey respondents report having been threatened or intimidated with a gun than having used a gun to protect themselves."

The FBI reported in 2010 that more people were killed by a gun wielding family member or friend than by a criminal (stranger).

Sources: The Atlantic,,, Injury Prevention,, FBI


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